Is Jerky Cooked, Or Is It Raw?


Last updated on August 15th, 2022 at 11:38 pm

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If you love meat, chances are that you’ve probably had your fair share of jerky. Not only is jerky a meat lover’s favorite snack, but it is surprisingly healthy as well, in moderation. 

Have you ever wondered, what exactly goes into making this delicious and nutritious snack? 

Jerky is dehydrated meat and it has been enjoyed by meat lovers for centuries. The word jerky comes from the Spanish word “charqui,” which means “jerked meat.” This phrase, jerked meat, originated from the Quechua phrase, “ch’ardki,” which means, “dried flesh.” 

Archeologists believe that the ancient Incans may have created their own jerky from llama and alpaca meat. They believe that many ancient civilizations would use the method of drying out meat as a way to preserve it. 

Instead of being sick from the meat a few days later, dehydrating the meat would allow it to stay edible much longer.  

Since jerky has such a long shelf life, it was the ideal way to preserve every part of the animal. Not only would it preserve every part of the animal, but it also allowed them to have food in the winter months while animals were hibernating and the weather was harsh. 

Though we may not need to hunt for our food in order to survive, we still do enjoy the benefits of the survival methods. Jerky is a delicious snack with a long shelf life thanks to our ancestors.  

Jerky is always cooked and never raw. Just cooking the meat does not mean that it is preserved. The jerky does take a much longer time to spoil because the moisture has been removed. 

Without the moisture, the bacteria won’t thrive. You can dehydrate meat with either a smoker or a dehydrator. 

Why Does Jerky Cost So Much? 

When you’re on a road trip, there’s an unwritten rule that you need a drink and snack when you stop at the gas station. After a while, you get kind of bored with chips or sweets. 

At the next stop, you want a healthier snack. There are a few options, but one of the best options is jerky. However, the jerky can be a bit pricey. 

What is so special about jerky that is costs so much. 

The process to make jerky requires removing a ton of moisture. The price you are paying is typically the price it was before dehydrating it. Typically a pound of beef costs around $4-$5. You are getting that whole pound of beef in your four-ounce bag of jerky. 

You are also getting all the nutrients from that whole pound of beef as well. The price of jerky is high as you are paying for the pre-dehydrated price, shipping, and packaging as well. 

How Long Does Homemade Jerky Last? 

If you are a hunter, you want to try and keep as much meat as possible. You will end up with a freezer full of venison after just one weekend of hunting. Your freezer will fill up fast if hunting is an every weekend sport. 

You can make your own jerky to help cut down how much venison stays in your freezer. If you buy your meat in bulk, you can also create more freezer space by making your own jerky too. 

If you were to save some space and dehydrate your meat, how long would the homemade  jerky last? 

If properly made, homemade jerky can last for a few months. Store your jerky in an air-tight container at room temperature. 

The best way to know whether or not your homemade jerky has gone bad is by the smell. If it starts to smell rancid or shows signs of mold, throw it out. 

What Meat Can You Make Jerky From? 

If you are interested in creating your own jerky, what different types of meat can you use to make it? Are you limited to just beef, venison, and turkey? 

Are there any risks to dehydrating certain types of meat? 

You can create jerky from all sorts of meat: beef, venison, pork, turkey, chicken, lamb, buffalo, and even fish. There are no real risks to dehydrating any type of meat; pretty much all meat can be dehydrated.

If you want to preserve your meat for an extended period of time, you can create jerky from any of these meats and extend its shelf life. 

How Do You Eat Jerky? 

Jerky is an excellent source of protein. Dried protein also makes for a great snack. Is there really any other way to eat jerky than just on its own? 

Can you add jerky to other foods? 

If you are tired of always eating jerky by itself, here are a few different ideas you can use to change your routine. 

  • Crumble it onto fresh salad: You can add this protein-filled snack right on top of your salad. Adding jerky to your salads can add an extra depth of deliciousness. 
  • Mix it into cornbread: Cornbread with pieces of jerky will be your new go-to potluck dish. You can even add various flavors of jerky to your cornbread too. Do you want a little extra spice with your cornbread? Add in some spicy jalaepeño jerky for that extra kick. Are you looking for more of a sweet flavored cornbread? Add in some honey-flavored jerky for that extra hint of sweetness. 
  • Simmer it in tomato sauce: Instead of purchasing the more expensive meat-flavored tomato sauce, you can make your own. Add some little pieces of jerky to your tomato sauce for a richer flavor of tomato sauce. 
  • Roast it with Brussel sprouts: Do you have a hard time eating your green veggies but have no problem getting your meat intake? Try adding some of your favorite flavored jerky to Brussel sprouts. You can create a new, healthy, green dish that you can enjoy. 
  • Add it to your morning omelet: Much like adding bacon crumbles to your omelet, you can add jerky to your omelet too. It’s meat that you won’t have to prepare ahead of time. Before you place your eggs in the pan, whisk the jerky in the mixture and cook your omelet like normal. 
  • Add it as an extra protein to your soup: Soups are an easy lunch or dinner to make. You can either pour it in a bowl and pop it into the microwave or simmer broth on the stove and add your favorite soup ingredients. If you are looking to add some extra protein to your soup, add your favorite jerky. 

Final Thoughts

Dehydrating meat for preservation has been around for centuries. All jerky is cooked before dehydrating. 

Dehydrating raw meat wouldn’t work well (unless it’s heated properly) and would make for some awful tasting jerky. 

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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